collections

Circulation of Ch’i (1886)

A nineteenth-century Taoist ink drawing by an unknown Chinese artist, showing the circulation of “ch’i” (or “qì”) through the human body. The early Taoist philosophers and alchemists considered ch’i – which translates literally as breath or air, and figuratively as “life force” or “material energy” – to be a vital force found in the breath and bodily fluids. With the help of different techniques, one could learn to alter and control the movement of ch’i within one’s body, attaining physical longevity and spiritual power. It is a central and underlying principle found in Chinese medicine, philosophy, and martial arts. This remarkable late-nineteenth-century image is originally from a plank found in the White Cloud Taoist Temple in Beijing.

Housed at: The Walters Art Museum
Underlying Work: PD Worldwide | Digital Copy: No Additional Rights
Download: Right click on image or see source for higher res versions